Culture > Film review: The Lost City of Z

Posted on March 27, 2017

Joe Marshall voyages into uncharted territory

Adventurers, on the whole, make great viewing. We’re fascinated by their journeys into the dark and dangerous unknown. Be it Indiana Jones evading booby traps to find treasure or Bear Grylls biting into something disgusting for sustenance, we love to see people pushing themselves in the name of discovery.

The Lost City of Z is based on the true story of Col. Percival Fawcett. At the start of the 20th century, hungry for new adventures, he agreed to go on a perilous expedition to an unexplored part of the Amazon. Once there he discovered more than he bargained for – evidence of a sophisticated hidden civilisation.

Charlie Hunnam puts in an earnest performance as the intrepid lead. He portrays someone who is remarkably headstrong. His strength in his convictions makes him admirable, and you can feel the plight he suffers trying to convince his peers in the scientific establishment that the lost city exists, as well as the hardships he undergoes in the jungle looking for it.

The film also considers Fawcett’s domestic life. The search for his holy grail means his nearest and dearest are put on the back burner. This jeopardises his relationships, in particular with his son, who accuses him of holding the lost city in higher esteem than his family. The role of the son, who eventually joins him on his travels, is convincingly carried with nuance and a commitment to conveying a range of strong emotions.

Visually, this is a five star film. From mysterious, skin crawling glimpses of natives through the trees, to the rolling country hills of England, it’s a joy to behold.

A barely recognisable, heavy bearded Robert Pattinson appears as Henry, Percival’s loyal partner in exploration. Sienna Miller plays the protagonist’s doting, but strong wife who pushes him to his potential.

The time in which the picture is set is well realised, from the costumes to the way the characters speak. Historical events are not overlooked either, with the colonel’s ambitions being sidetracked by the First World War.

In a partly comical subplot, a character called James Murray hinders an expedition with his laziness and lack of comradeship. In one scene he lies on the ground refusing to go any further. Funny as his behaviour is, Angus Macfadyen skilfully plays someone selfish and unlikeable who threatens to sabotage the hero’s ultimate goal.

The action scenes are more than a little implausible. Few of the arrows fired at the explorers by jungle savages actually land on target, but then again this is no different from virtually any combat scene in any film.

The pitfall of The Lost City Of Z is that it’s anticlimactic. The ending is vague and unsatisfying for a film which promises such a huge reward. The real life Percy Fawcett disappeared into the jungle alongside his son in 1925.

The Lost City of Z is in cinemas now.

Joe Marshall
Joe Marshall is Exposure’s Arts & Culture Editor. With his written content he endeavours to raid the full remit of entertainment in London, if he doesn’t drown in it first. He aspires to make a career out of journalism like his heroes Tom Wolfe, Hunter S Thompson and Jon Ronson before him.

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